Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/71

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CHAPTER IV

THE GEORGE AND VULTURE, MR. PICKWICK'S HEADQUARTERS WHEN HE STOPPED IN LONDON


There are nooks and cracks and crannies in London Town through which you can hardly squeeze your way with a wheel-barrow, let alone a cab or hansom. The little crooked turn to the left—a footway that leads to and fronts the George and Vulture—is one of them. Even with my easel and stool hugging the opposite wall and my feet drawn well under me, half the hungry and thirsty crowd on their way to luncheon stumbled over my toes. My surroundings were very much as if I had camped out near my own office in Exchange Place—say at its angle with New Street or opposite the members' entrance of the New York Stock Exchange—on a day when everything was "kiting."

To-day my easel was breasting a surging tide of telegraph boys in their tin-can caps tilted over their left eyebrows; perspiring brokers making calculations with their lips, their eyes on the turn of the street; lads in white aprons carrying flat baskets—portable luncheons, perhaps; porters with bundles; bank messengers with books; human drift from the slums; idlers; sightseers—a motley, congested, and ill-

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